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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
spring 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 67 Why don’t you touch what’s inside with some warmth and kind- ness? Hearing the words come from within, tears silently gushed down my face, off my chin, and onto my black robes. Without a thought, I had agreed. Though I had never heard that quiet, clear voice before, I followed it without hesitating. And just like that, though I had no clue at the time, the trajec- tory of my life shifted. It was the spring of 1984, and I was the head resident teacher at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. Sitting with my face moist, somewhat astonished, somewhat deflated, that soft, distinct voice commented, It’s about time. I had been practicing Zen for nineteen years. How long shall we wait to get real, to connect with what is inside, to connect what is inside with what is outside? How long to shift from performance to presence, from control to compas- sion? To living from one’s heart or felt sense rather than from one’s head? “Zen,” Suzuki Roshi had explained, pointing first to his head and then to his belly, “is to settle the self on the self.” Years earlier, at one of his morning lectures in the old zendo at Tassajara, he had proclaimed, “If Zen practice is not engaging you in your inner life, then find something that does.” Later I After years of focusing on the forms and protocols of Zen, edward espe brown realized he had overlooked the heart of practice. that changed everything. Touching What’s Inside illUStrAtioNS | mark t. morse